The Best Closet Island Designs

Islands are an excellent way to create more storage space in your closet. Plus, they provide a display area for jewelry and other small accessories. However, there are some things you need to consider if you're installing a pre-made one or building it yourself. The first is whether or not you have room in your closet. According to Tailored Living, you'll need at least 36 inches of space to walk around your island. Typically, you need a 12 by 13-foot area, but there are some workarounds if you have a small closet and want to add an island. These include one-sided islands or a modified version against the wall.

The next thing to consider is what you'll be storing in it. Are you planning to install one to keep your shoes or jewelry? Are you looking for a space to fold your laundry or assemble an outfit? Ensure that your island is deigned to hold specific items. Closet islands remove the need for a dresser in your bedroom, which means more space. You'll ideally want to invest in a model with drawers, although it's certainly not your only option. When determining the size of your closet island, remember that the typical height for a closet island is 40 to 45 inches, with 1 inch for the countertop. With these considerations in mind, here are some of the best closet island designs to inspire your next home renovation.

Convert a kitchen island

Dressers and kitchen islands make perfect canvases for conversion into other types of furniture. You will need to make some adjustments to them to make them closet-appropriate. Similarly, dressers also work well for this task. Dear Creatives recommend adding some chalk paint and considering a new drop leaf or fold-down top that lets you determine the best size for your specific needs. You can use this same tactic in reverse if you have a larger top on your kitchen island than you want in your closet.

A traditional nickel hinge will make this conversion a breeze, allowing you to adjust the size of your closet island to suit your available space and needs. For example, you can pull out the top while folding laundry or preparing an outfit. Then, you can put it back for extra space when done. You can leave the drop leaf unfinished or paint it in complementary or contrasting colors. Choose unique or antique pulls to give your island an original look. Kitchen islands come in classic, old-school styles and pair well with retro glass-style knobs or iron pulls. You can use both if you have multiple drawers in your closet island.

Build one with a butcher block top

You can start this project with a dresser or kitchen island or build one from scratch if you fancy a DIY project. Either way, butcher block tops make for a gorgeous finish for your island. There are many options available in this style too. Unlike with kitchens, you can use unfinished versions in a closet. Or you can custom order a top for your closet island in various shades of stain.

Traditionally, butcher block countertops are unfinished oak, walnut, or something with a simple, transparent stain. Armani Fine Woodworking offers options in walnut stain, rustic walnut stain, or African mahogany. You will also need to consider the color of your cabinets if you plan to use a butcher block top on your closet island. Butcher block countertops tend to be more rustic-looking, so you should plan your corresponding cabinet accordingly (via Kitchen Seer).

Neutral or earth tones like white, cream, tan, and sage green are your best bet. Whites pair nicely with just about any countertop. Dark-colored tops go best with light-colored cabinets and shelves, and vice-versa. Gray and driftwood work just as well as white and cream. Blues and teals also complement butcher block countertops beautifully. Do your best to match your style, closet, and countertop for a beautiful closet design.

Make a DIY island from IKEA pieces

IKEA is perfect for projects like DIY closet islands. The store sells many of its items as individual pieces, which means you can customize the project any way you like. You can build from cubicles, drawers, or a combination of them. You can use cubes and drawers in gloss white, silver legs, and knobs, with a marble slab purchased elsewhere for the countertop, per Lauren Messiah. Feel free to consider custom alternatives, but they might be too expensive. Most people who plan to DIY their closets are likely in a similar position. 

While IKEA furniture is famously frustrating to assemble, closet islands are pretty basic projects that anyone with some basic skills should be able to pull off. You can get it done without too much cursing, throwing items, or trying to hammer together incompatible pieces. If that's not you, consider which of your friends you might be able to bribe with beer and pizza to do the work for you. Make a point of decorating appropriately. The right decor can take your DIY walk-in closet project from drab to fab.

Upcycle old bookshelves

There are many ways to repurpose bookshelves, but this project lets you convert an unused bookshelf into a functional closet island. You can keep the shelves as-is and stack shoes on them or place them back-to-back and fill them with smaller items for storage. Alternatively, you can add some rattan baskets and boxes for storing things like purses and scarves. This type of storage works equally well for socks.

According to Central Virginia Home Magazine, bookshelves work as any storage type you want as long as they fit in your closet. They may be easier to use than more traditional closet islands for this very reason. If you have a small space, you can use just one. Consider placing two bookshelves back-to-back for a slightly larger area that might not be big enough for a full-sized island.

Decorating these pieces can also be great fun, allowing you to express your personality and choose the style you want in your closet. You can line them with wallpaper or decoupage fabric on the sides (via Jewels at Home). This tip will make the piece stand out more, and you can customize it to your tastes. Since the patterned background will show behind the items you've chosen to display there, it can give much-needed style to your closet's interior. If that's not your style, you can paint the interior in fun rainbow colors (via Cup of Jo).

Design a marble or glass-topped island

You have endless choices when choosing a top for your closet island. You can stick with a simple wood finish or choose something more elegant, like glass, quartz, or marble. Marble-topped options are charming and multi-purpose. Traditionally, you can use these for laying out clothing when preparing to go out or folding and packing clothes for travel. Per Designing Idea, you can also sort and select jewelry items on marble counters. Glass tops add sophistication to an otherwise ordinary closet island. Quartz or marble makes for an even more impressive finish. This feature will undoubtedly make your closet appear more polished if you can afford it.

Tops for closet islands also typically extend beyond the outer measurements of the island beneath them. Adding a top or choosing an option with one provides additional space you wouldn't have otherwise. Fancy tops can be one of the more expensive aspects of closet islands. If you're short on cash, and this isn't an element you require, it may be the best place to cut back on expenses. Or you can choose a drop leaf option that gives you extra space when required and folds out of the way when not in use.

Create an island with a built-in shoe rack

Closet islands assembled from cubbies work well for shoe storage. However, you can also pick up a shoe rack and convert it into a closet island. Options like this shoe cabinet from IKEA have a little bit of everything most people look for in a closet island. It safely tucks your shoes away, and there is a drawer to put smaller items that might otherwise get lost. You can leave the top surface as is or add a granite or quartz slab, a glass surface, or a hinged wood top that allows you to adjust the size of your island.

Shoe storage is a separate space in most fancier closets, which tend to include islands. There are rotating racks or walls used to store these items. That makes this closet island model ideal for smaller closets or people without the budget for a custom design. You don't need to top the shoe rack if you're short on cash. You can use the existing wood surface and add jewelry boxes to the top for storage. Adding storage containers can make this even more of a space saver. Decorative boxes that double as storage, hanging racks for jewelry, and small, cubicle-style storage all give you extra space you wouldn't have otherwise.

Add wheels to your closet island

You can combine form and function when your closet island is on wheels. At Ideas of Order, the closet island was custom designed with wheels. This design lets you move the island out of the way when you need more space or want to have a closet dance party. Many people use this space for folding and putting away clothes because their laundry areas don't have sufficient space for the task. Being able to roll your closet island to the section where you hang your clothes is convenient.

A rolling closet island also allows you to roll the closet island to an area with event-specific clothes. If you're dressing for an evening out or an important business meeting, it's easier to get ready. You can put on clothes, shoes, and jewelry to see how they will pair without trying on multiple outfits. A rolling island allows you to roll the cart into the center of the closet to plan your outfit, and then back against the wall to get it out of the way once dressed to impress.

Install barn doors to your closet island

You're likelier to find barn doors on kitchen islands than in the closet. However, adding these rustic doors to your kitchen is a stylish and decorative accent, per Instructables. The piece is four-sided, and the shelves hold up to 32 pairs of shoes. Best of all, the barn doors hide small, shelved sections that provide even more storage in this piece. You get a great-looking piece of furniture that also stores plenty of wearable items.

Hiding things you don't want to leave out in the open is one of the primary advantages of barn doors. Many appear in pantries and bathrooms, but they are also used to hide clutter in closets. Many bookshelves feature barn door closures (via Ana White). Having sections where you can store items out of sight means even more space in your closet. If you have used all the free room on top of your island, you can put items in storage cubbies, boxes, or hangers inside closed spaces. You can still access the items without them taking up the space you need for other things. These hidden spaces are also excellent for items you value but don't use often. That leaves them available when you need them but out of the way when you don't.

Create an island with pull-out jewelry shelves

Custom options allow you to choose how many drawers you want or need for jewelry storage in your closet island. You can also add inserts to your existing island closet for this purpose. You can DIY them by lining shelves with velvet for jewelry storage. Innovate Home Org has options that lock up valuable pieces. If your collection is more extensive than it is expensive, there are options with double shelves that pull out, allowing for even more storage than traditional designs.

There are a few guidelines to keep in mind when storing your jewelry (via Roam Often). Everyday jewelry should be on display somewhere easy to see and convenient to grab on your way out the door. In a closet island, this could be a top pull-out shelf or some sort of storage atop the closet island. If you are using a shelf, it may have built-in storage. If not, you can find storage options you can insert into those drawers.

If you have the space, sort your jewelry by color. If you've chosen a closet island with multiple drawers, you can separate them this way. Depending on your available drawers, you may need to divide one or two into sections. Keep expensive and delicate jewelry in drawers to protect it from the elements.

Build a bench for your closet island

Not everyone needs seating in their closets, but it is a nice feature. Adding a bench allows you to try on shoes with each of your outfits. You can even consider installing a mirror on your bench for a close-up view of your feet. If you don't need a mirror, you can use the space for a storage bench. You can add drawers or a cabinet with doors. While you're unlikely to have other furniture inside your closet, LA Closet Design points out that a bench or seat built into your island can be a welcome reprieve while deciding what to wear.

If you are custom designing your closet island, you have nearly endless options. Even if you're short on space, some designs allow your seating to fold up and out of the way when not in use. You can opt for bigger, built-in seating if space isn't an issue. A bench is a lovely closet addition if friends come to your house to dress up before a night out. Feel free to start the party by adding a wine refrigerator or pop-up TV to your bench.